I teach writing–among other things. But one of the first things I tell my students is that a writer never stops becoming a student, that is, if he or she takes writing seriously. I continue to grow as a writer, and it is my joy to include my own personal growth as part of my teaching process.
The area of growth for me these days has to do with the changing face of book publishing. The World Wide Web, social networks and the ease in self-publishing has pretty much changed everything having to do with book publishing. It used to be that a writer would write a book, submit it to a publisher, and wait for the checks to roll in (OK, I am simplifying it a great deal, but you get the idea). Today, even if you do get a contract with a big publisher, the onus is on the author to develop his or her own following through intense personal marketing.
I’ve learned this the hard way through the years. A dozen years ago, I wrote the book If Tomorrow Comes, a novel that I still consider one of my best. It was a flash in the pan, so to speak. It got good reviews, got a few people excited about it, then promptly died on the vine. I was under the mistaken impression that once I wrote it, my job was done.
Fast forward to 2012. I have five books I have written that are unpublished, as well as the rights to If Tomorrow Comes. I also have ideas for a graphic novel and an audio book. In addition, I have a son with artistic and video talent who is very much interested in helping me get something rolling. The result? We have started–for better or worse–our own publishing enterprise entitled Prevail Publications. I do the writing and editing, take care of the financial end and the marketing end. Matt does the design work, including covers and ads. He also is responsible for developing book trailers, which is a new thing for all of us, but seem to be the direction that book promotion is going.
We started in early January. Since then we developed two books–Tom Horn vs. The Warlords of Krupp and The Kiss of Night–as both ebooks and Print on Demand books. They are available at Smashwords, Amazon and soon at Barnes and Nobles and other stores. Last night, I added an updated version of If Tomorrow Comes into the mix.
I’ve written before in my own personal blog (http://www.glenchen.com) about why I made the move to self publishing. And I still can’t tell if it will be a brilliant idea or a mistake in the long run. But the whole process of doing something new and exciting like this fits hand in glove with the idea of writers being students.
Hit or miss, we are learning a lot. And so far, it’s a lot of fun.